Alice Wang at Piazza San Marco, Venice.
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By: Alice (Ruo Ran) Wang, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Before I begin to delve into the expected “life-changing” factors of this trip, allow me to confess how exhausted I am from the travel. In retrospect, four countries in four weeks is an itinerary for fools. To experience Paris, documenta, London, and Venice Biennale in less than a month is not a vacation, it is a full-time job. It has almost been a week since I came back from Canada and I am still recovering from “traverleritis.” It is a condition characterized by physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged FOMO. The remedy: intense house-rest in an austere—no art, no history, no foreign cuisine—environment coupled with moderate exercise. The romantic notio...

Category: Student Blog
Mariam Ali, Au Brasseur
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By Mariam Ali, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

As I’ve said, making friends was a bit of a challenge for me, but as time passed I created close friendships that I hope will stand the test of time and distance. It's often easiest to make friends with fellow exchange students since they're experiencing the same culture shock as you. In my experience, most exchange students are open-minded, warm and curious about the world. They’ll probably be curious about you, as you will be curious about them. Exchange students will also want to create new connections and experiences in a foreign country, just like you. A lot of them have fascinating stories about themselves, their cultures, their countries, or whatever else might interest you....

Category: Student Blog
Cheryl Olvera, Hampton Court Palace
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By Cheryl Olvera, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Growing up in a young country like Canada, I felt the history we learned in school about kings and queens was so mythical and in a land far far away… then I went to one of these lands far far away!

Of all the castles and famous old wonders I have visited so far, Hampton Court Palace is the most historically intriguing. The University of Sussex, where I’m currently studying, has a super cool International Student Support organization that arranges trips and outing for the international students. They arrange the tickets, the coach, the itinerary– all I had to do was show up and we left right from uni (the British shorthand for university).

Best quote from the 90s mob...

Category: Student Blog
It was a treat to compose letters on the train
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By: Alice (Ruo Ran) Wang, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

I am sitting on the train heading to a small town in Germany called Kassel. The quinquennial contemporary art festival—documenta—is taking place there and as a budding art historian, it is imperative that I visit it during my artistic pilgrimage. After two weeks in Paris, I am looking forward to being in a smaller city. Big cities have their glamour and dynamics, but it is in the countryside that we find the space and air to breath.

Writing the draft of this entry on the train is a particular treat. Not only am I delighted to be composing it with a fountain pen that I had recently purchased in Paris, I have always considered the process of writing to a kind...

Category: Student Blog
Mariam Ali, Express Réussir au Canada
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By Mariam Ali, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Last summer before my exchange to IEP de Strasbourg, I remember being so nervous about my exchange, asking myself how I would fare abroad. One year later I’ve changed in so many ways, growing as a person while improving my French and my knowledge of the world.

First, my exchange in Strasbourg has made me more independent. Living on my own and figuring out various tasks, all while I was going to school, was often challenging, but I learned the importance of managing my time and prioritization. Budgeting could also be challenging, making sure my money lasted, knowing where to get student discounts, but also knowing when to spend on myself. Another challenge of life in France wa...

Category: Student Blog
Cheryl Olvera, Unicorn hot chocolate at Room 76
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By Cheryl Olvera, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Routine. That is what I had in Vancouver. I had my uni classes (‘uni’ is now how I refer to university, just as the British do, which makes me think of unicorns every time I say it so now I just use the unicorn emoji to refer to school via text), my part-time personal trainer job, my CrossFit gym, my amazing friends, my fav coffee shops. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some routine. It’s actually quite useful when you’re in uni too, because you can just focus on your assignments instead of trying to reorganize and sort out your life every second day. But routine really gets you on autopilot, and before you know it, you’ve lost sight of your path, your purpose, or lost your inquisit...

Category: Student Blog
Lucy Dabbs, inside of the Bird's Nest National Stadium
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By: Lucy Dabbs, Georges P. Vanier Secondary School, participant of the 2017 Beijing International Education Exchange (BIEE) Summer Camp.

Our next stop is the Bird's Nest National Stadium, a massive outdoor stadium made of huge steel bars crisscrossing in the shape of a bird's nest, hence its name. From a distance, the supports look like mere twigs, but up close they spanned 4 feet across. This was where the Summer 2008 Olympic Games were held. Ironically enough, I am wearing my Canada shirt from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

If you're paying attention, you might notice that I’m not wearing my orange shirt today. Why not use any excuse I can to save my orange shirt for another day, and represent Canada at the same time. Wearing Canadian clothes seemed t...

Category: Student Blog
Gigi Lin
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By Gigi Lin, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

It feels weird being back home. This city where I’ve learned to walk, speak English, fell in love with my academic life, and chose to leave for the U.K. - feels more foreign than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s true what they say. You experience withdrawal when you build a life somewhere else (even if it is temporary), and end up having to say farewell to it. I can proudly say and believe, exchange is one of the most incredulous and valuable experience during my undergraduate degree.

Extraordinary Memo...

Category: Student Blog
Realizing my first artwork ever!
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By: Alice (Ruo Ran) Wang, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

As I get ready to leave for my study-abroad program, I find myself overcome with an intense pre-departure jitter. There seems to be an endless string of loose-ends: getting foreign currency (Did I get enough? How devastated would I be if I got robbed? If not too devastated, maybe I should get more?); booking hostels (Is this good/safe/clean/reliable? Is there a breakfast buffet? Can I smuggle food from the buffet to eat later?); trying to forecast the weather (Does 19 ̊C in Paris feels like 19 ̊C here?). The constant plague of uncertainties is exasperating the already difficult task of planning a realistic sojourn.

I have other worries too. I am vigilant ab...

Category: Student Blog
Kunming from the west mountain
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By: Sean Paul Veltmeyer, Langara College, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.

Tonight will be the last night of my study abroad program. After spending one night in Shanghai then two in Hangzhou, two of China's colossal coastal cities, my classmates and I have spent the last two weeks housed on the campus of scenic Kunming's Yunnan Agriculture University. Home to six million people this capital of the southern Yunnan province is hardly a small city itself, but feels entirely different than the mega cities. The entire trip has been unforgettable and I have learned so much from the experience.

The first three days we spent on a guided tour seeing various tourist sites around the cities during the day then enjoying our evenings free to explore the citie...

Category: Student Blog

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